At this point, it’s getting hard to come up with superlatives to describe what Luka Doncic is doing in just his second season in the league. But after his performance on Monday night to lead the Dallas Mavericks past the San Antonio Spurs, there’s no option but to try.
The Slovenian sensation put together one of the best games of his career to date, finishing with a career-high 42 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists to register his sixth triple-double so far already this season, and make history in the process.
With his incredible display, he became the second player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double before turning 21 years old. The other? Oh, just a guy named LeBron James. That obviously steals the show in terms of the historical importance of his night, but in addition he became the first player in Mavericks history to record a 40-point triple-double.
Doncic started out his night on fire, pouring in 17 points in the first quarter alone to help the Mavericks get out to an early double-digit lead. He did so thanks to a number of nasty step-back 3s, draining shots left and right regardless of the resistance from the Spurs’ defense.
It’s hard to dominate games from start to finish in the NBA, though, and the Spurs worked their way back in the second half. With just under five minutes to play in the fourth, the Spurs had cut an 18-point deficit down to just two. They never got any closer, thanks to the work of Doncic.
First, he drove inside for a layup to push the Mavs’ lead back up to four points. A few possessions later, he got himself to the line, and even though he was only able to make one of the free throws, the Mavericks were back up by multiple possessions. Still, the Spurs kept fighting, and with 43 seconds left, Rudy Gay hit a 3-pointer to once again cut the deficit back to two points.
Of course, the Mavericks responded by giving the ball to Doncic, and he delivered. Controlling the ball up top as he likes to do, he sized up Bryn Forbes, and finished the game just as he started it, with a perfect step-back 3. There was nothing the smaller Forbes could do as Doncic let it fly over his outstretched arm.
For the season, Doncic is now putting up 28.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game, which puts him awfully close to averaging a triple-double, and shows just how dominant he’s become. Because he’s so young he doesn’t have the accomplishments to stack up to some of the league’s true superstars, but in terms of impact, it’s hard to find many players who do more for their team, or are harder to stop.